John Ruskin, Thun

'Beautiful Effects': Ruskin's Daguerreotypes of Switzerland

16 January - 5 April 2012

Looking through the lens at great Swiss landscape and architecture.

John Ruskin visited the French and Swiss Alps on many occasions, firstly aged 14 in 1833 and finally in 1888, on his final trip to the Continent. His favourite places there were Chamonix, where he found perfect mountain scenery, and the towns of Lucerne on its lake, hilly Fribourg, and Rheinfelden with its bridge over the river Rhine. As an early devotee of daguerreotype photography, Ruskin had acquired his own camera by 1849 and used it to capture around 40 Swiss subjects before 1858, of which 23 are now held in the Museum's Whitehouse Collection (belonging to a group of 125 daguerreotypes in total).

   
John Hobbs/John Ruskin: Daguerreotype of Mer de Glace, Chamonix, 1854; John Ruskin: Mer de Glace, Chamonix, c. 1849

These images were shown in this exhibition alongside drawings, watercolours, letters and diaries complementing each subject, sometimes exactly as with Ruskin's watercolour of the Mer de Glace, Chamonix (above) and his drawings of Fribourg. The display was the third in a series of four exhibitions of Ruskin's daguerreotypes at the Museum.